In light of all the horrific news splashed across the 24/7 news networks over the past several days, it seemed to be a better use of my time to reflect on some more optimistic news that directly affects our community. Nothing I can say here will properly describe the absolute atrocities committed at the hands of a lone gunman who decided to take matters into his own hands by killing five police officers in Dallas last week.
From my perspective, there's nothing that excuses the actions of Micah Xavier Johnson. Period. This type of vigilante-style "justice" is inexcusable and does nothing to ease the tensions between the nation's peace officers and those they've sworn to protect.
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'd like to focus on the progress our local police officers and sheriff's deputies have done to keep Mountain Home and Elmore County a much safer place to live and raise our families. The recent "Crime in Idaho" report released by the Idaho State Police last week shows that our law enforcement teams are continuing to work hard to fight and deter crime.
Those that have worn the badge over the years know that it's an ongoing fight that doesn't allow anyone a chance to catch their breath. If given a chance, criminals will continue to operate within our communities and cause even more problems unless they're taken off the street once and for all.
Over the past year, it's become clear that efforts to take drug dealers and manufacturers off our streets saw some benefits. With fewer people out there selling this type of poison to those all too willing to buy it, we've actually seen a decrease in burglaries and petty thefts.
It's clear that when a community is infested with drug-related crime, other forms of crime pick up. Typically, you'll see more homes and cars broken into and more victims reporting that their property was stolen by those wanting to support their drug habits.
Drug and alcohol abuse hit a little too close to home because I've seen firsthand how it affects people. Members of my extended family have battled addictions with both drugs and alcohol, which ultimately killed one of them.
Another of my relatives spent a few years behind bars because their addiction to methamphetamine convinced them to start selling these drugs on the streets. They were finally released from custody late last year, but I know their battle is far from over since they have to fight the urge to "fall off the wagon" and pick up where they left off.
That's the problem with meth. It's perhaps the most horrible form of narcotic to ever hit the streets. It can hook someone after just one "hit," and the addiction can stay with someone for years and perhaps for the rest of their lives.
I remember one case in recent years in which a person was sent to prison for a considerably long time due to their addiction to meth. Once they were finally released, the first thing they wanted to do was go right back to using it.
Yes, the addiction is that powerful. It's very similar to those who are alcoholics, who have to fight off the urge to drink throughout the rest of their lives.
While we do have a problem with drugs and alcohol in our county, there was one thing in the state police report that we lack -- the serious forms of crime you typically see in larger cities.
Consider the following. Since 2002, this county has directly dealt with six murder cases, the most recent of which happened in 2013. There was another homicide that year, but that was later ruled as a murder-suicide.
Since then, we've had one attempted murder in which an airman from Mountain Home Air Force Base was shot and critically wounded in what appeared to be motivated by a "love triangle." Now compare our numbers to those from large urban areas where the daily murders there don't make the front page anymore, and it's clear that it's far safer living here.
Here's something else to keep in mind. We don't have to deal with the types of violent crime that's common in Los Angeles and Chicago such as drive-by shootings.
While you would think that type of senseless violence is confined to major cities across the United States, I found out that it's not. The threat of drive-by shootings was something my family and I faced during our time in Colorado Springs, Colo. You would think that a town with two military bases in it wouldn't have that issue, but we quickly learned that wasn't the case.
During our two years in Colorado Springs, we had at least one drive-by shooting within a mile of our home. Crime there got so bad that I was relieved when I received orders to move to Japan. I was glad to get away from the gang-related activity that had taken root in a city that should've been Colorado's outdoor paradise.
It's sad that our society has come down to this, but in some cities, it's become the "accepted norm."
That's why my family and I love living here. Our police officers and sheriffs deputies don't want Mountain Home and other communities across Elmore County to become gang-infested dens of crime. Our officers and deputies have worked hard over the years to crack down on the infiltration of drugs into this part of the state.
In addition, our law enforcement team has another resource that's helping combat crime -- the citizens of this county. We remain much safer because people here don't condone the type of crime that's taken root in other communities.
When we see a suspicious person in our neighborhood or someone starts causing other types of problems, we have no problem picking up the phone and calling it in. From my perspective, it's better to overreact and call in suspicious activity versus remaining silent and doing nothing.
Criminals want us to sit idly by and let them continue to infest our community. That's why we are not allowing that to happen here.
And for that, I remain thankful to live here.
-- Brian S. Orban